AN adventurous cat who ended up 75 miles away after stowing away in a delivery van has been reunited with his heartbroken family – thanks to a County Durham veterinary practice.
Unknown to his owners, Flash hopped into the back of a van that was delivering furniture next door to his home in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, before travelling all the way to Washington Services on the A1 at Chester-le-Street.
Owner Charlotte and Matt Hunt and their children Louis, seven, and five-year-old Oliver were distraught at the disappearance of the 16-month-old black and white cat they rescued as a kitten, and placed posters in their neighbourhood and posted on Facebook to appeal for his safe return.
They contacted the company that had delivered furniture to a neighbour on the off-chance the driver may have found Flash but were told there was no sighting of him when the driver had opened the rear doors when stopping off at Washington Services.
The family had almost given up hope of finding him when they received a phone call out of the blue from the team at Prince Bishop Veterinary Hospital in Leadgate, near Consett, to say Flash had been handed into the practice.
Flash had travelled a further 16 miles and turned up on the doorstep of someone living in Chopwell, before being taken to Prince Bishop Vets to see if he was microchipped.
A microchip is a small chip around the size of a grain of rice which is inserted under your cat’s skin – usually by a vet, a local authority or a member of an animal welfare organisation, such as Cats Protection. The microchip gives a cat their own unique code and held on a database.
Clinical director Gillian Brown scanned Flash for a microchip and found his owners had registered him as missing. She was then able to easily trace his owners and reunite them with their pet.
Flash was covered in ticks and would not have survived long term as the parasites carry disease and can cause anaemia. He underwent a health check at the practice and was healthy enough to leave.
I immediately burst out crying when I received the call from Prince Bishop Vets and asked if he had been brought in alive. She told me he was fine and I immediately went to collect him.
We couldn’t believe he had travelled so far and it is a lovely feeling to have him back home. I’m so relieved he was microchipped and the details were up to date so we could be easily traced. He was so pleased to be back and slept for days and ate lots of food.
My advice to any cat owners is to ensure you have your cat microchipped as you have a much better chance of a happy ending like the one we had. We’re so grateful to the lady who took him to the vets to check if he was chipped. If it wasn’t for her, he may still be missing.
Microchipping all pet cats becomes compulsory in England by June 10th 2024 and owners face a fine of up to £500 if they don’t comply.
Prince Bishop Vets has dozens of stray cats handed in every year but few are returned to their owners as they are not microchipped.
We don’t often have a happy ending like Flash’s story as the chances of reuniting them with their owners are slim if they’re not microchipped, which is very sad.
We’ve never had a cat handed in that has travelled as far as Flash, although we’ve known cats that have been missing from home for years that have been living rough and we are able to reunite them with their owners after they were handed in as they were microchipped.